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Ovation: Getting Our Priorities Right At Christmastime.

12/11/2013

MJE Letter to SantaThis is the time of year when I really feel fortunate and lucky and charmed and prosperous and favored.  Most of all I feel blessed.  I have a nice home and a good job, I’m relatively healthy and I’ve found my soul mate.  I don’t want for much of anything.  While I love to give gifts to friends, neighbors and loved ones at Christmastime, I fear that I’m not very good at accepting them.  I imagine that I’m a difficult person for which to shop.  I don’t have a Wish List.

I come from a “What do you want for Christmas?” type of family where grandparents ask grandchildren for the same lists that they would give to Santa Claus.  Because, of course, it’s much more fun to give a gift that someone “wants” than a gift that someone “needs”.

But I don’t like Wish Lists.  I think they, more often than not, set unrealistic goals and lead to certain disappointment.  If you look at a Christmas Wish Lists of the average six-year-old today,  you’ll see various electronics and automated  remote controlled wireless devices that read to and talk to children, show them videos and play games with them.  These kids want computerized dolls that have their own websites and smartphone apps that parents can use to upload new programs and games.

Not too long ago, I discovered a letter that my grandfather had written to Santa Claus when he was only six years old.  He would have written this letter in about 1922 and the things that he asked Santa Claus to bring him might shock and amaze a six-year-old today.

“Dear Santa Claus.

I am a good boy.  Will you please bring me something for Christmas? I want a pair of high top shoes and a little automobile, a man’s football and a pair of skates and lead pencils.”

Unbelievable, right?  First, he wanted to know if Santa would even bring him something.  Kids today take for granted that they’re going to get gifts on Christmas Day and most assume that they will get many, many gifts.  I wonder if they appreciate what they’ve already got.  While just a couple of generations ago kids may have wished for lead pencils and shoes, it seems that children today have much higher expectations and are not satisfied with basic necessities.

Christmastime is a good time of year to get our priorities straight.  Let’s think about it when we make our Wish Lists.

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7 Comments
  1. Anonymous permalink

    Well said! A child whose wish list is clearly not “needs” could be encouraged to request donations be made to a charity instead. Get them thinking about the bigger picture, how lucky they are and considering others less fortunate.

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  2. Rick permalink

    I have no wish list. It is difficult to buy for me. We get most of what we want during the year, either for ourselves or each other. Blessed beyond deserving…….

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  3. I have a friend who calls these ‘first world problems’.

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  4. Good post. The letter is precious and telling. I have grown to appreciate less the commercialization of Christmas. This letter makes the spirit live. Take care, BTG

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    • It’s really quite touching to those who knew him best. All throughout his adult life as a navigator in the Air Force, a draftsman and a musician it seemed he always kept a lead a pencil within arm’s reach.

      Simple pleasures indeed. Thanks for your kind words.

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  5. Last year my hubby got me a box of my favorite chocolates & a back scratcher – I was thrilled with my gifts. He got a pair of pyjama bottoms & his favorite box of chocolates & he was thrilled. We don’t do much in the way of exchanging gifts since if we really need something we just go get it when we need it. Have a very happy Christmas however you celebrate the season!

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